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APRIL 2012 



oanoKe Kiver i reas 

., # «** 







The ^e\\ South River 

l>\ Tee ( ilarkson 

Anglers, grab your ll\ rods and experience 

the magnificenl South River at Waynesboro. 

Fake Out \ Gobbler This Spring 
by David Harl 

I sing decoys strategical!) might jusl land you 
one ofthese eairex birds. 

Silver Bullets Rebound 

l>\ king Montgomery 

Migrator} shad are once again populating the 

Potomac River, thanks to the hard work of many 

Invaders in \ irginia 

l>\ Cristina Santiestevan 

Five of'\ irginia's most aggressive invasive 

species are on this hit list, and we need your help. 

OO Protecting the Wild 

l»\ Marie Majaros 

Biologist Hon I lughes offers perspective on the 
unique ecosystem at (i. Richard Thompson 
\\ M V and the volunteers who help protect it. 


\n I ndiscovered Treasure 
l>\ Bean Beasle} 

the Roanoke River has plenh to offer sport- 
fishermen, including a robust striper fishery. 


32 Off the Leash • 33 Photo Tips • 34 Dining In 

ABOUT THE COVER: Spring gobbler hunting. Story on page 10. • Tommj Kirkland 

A. Willis Robertson 
Director, 1926^-1933 

In 1937, former member of the Senate of Virginia, Representa- 
tive A. Willis Robertson co-sponsored the Federal Aid in 
Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act) — a user pay, 
public benefit system so successful that in 1950 a companion Fed- 
eral Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was passed as well. During 
this 75 th anniversary year, the P-R Act remains especially meaning- 
ful to Virginia sportsmen and women and the DGIF family, since 
A. Willis Robertson co-sponsored in 1 9 1 6 the legislation to create 
our agency and then served as director from 1 926 until 1 933. 

Imagine for a moment how bleak the situation must have ap- 
peared during the late 1930s, given that species of game such as 
deer, turkey, bear, wood duck, and other wildlife were in short sup- 
ply and revenue was extremely limited. The Department employed 
no wildlife or fish biologists and had no authority to set hunting 
and fishing seasons, as those were left to the legislature. At one 
point, Chairman Robertson lamented, "Frankly, I cannot point 
with any degree of pride to a substantial increase in either game or 
fish during the past five years of our administration . . . (and) unless 
. . . our commission . . . develops some way of increasing the supply 
of wildlife . . . our administration of this natural resource is going to 
be regarded as a failure." 

I have worked for nearly forty years in the wildlife profession 
and virtually every aspect of what we do in this country as wildlife 
managers has been touched, enhanced, or even made possible by 
the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration programs. These include 
land acquisition, habitat management, technical assistance, re- 
search and surveys, restoration programs and more! 

Last December, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. 
Pat Robertson, son of A. Willis Robertson, at his Virginia Beach of- 
fice. When asked what his father would have thought about the fact 
that more than 1 3 billion dollars have resulted for wildlife conserva- 
tion, Dr. Robertson allowed as how his father, an avid outdoors- 
man, would have been absolutely amazed at the success of these 

We are indeed indebted to Robertson and the other conserva- 
tion heroes of that era, to the sporting industry who has stood fast in 
support of these programs, and to the sportsmen and women who 
have contributed so much to the most successful model of wildlife 
conservation on the planet. Stay tuned for a story about the history 
and impacts of this legislation in an upcoming issue! 

We have come a long way from the "game farm" days of the 
early 20 th century and overcome many obstacles to enjoy the abun- 
dant wildlife populations we now have. It reminds me of a quote 
from Chief Dan George from one of my favorite Clint Eastwood 
movies, "The Oudaw Josey Wales." The Chief stated that in the face 
of hardship he was told to "endeavor to persevere"! I think A. Willis 
Robertson did just that, and it is his legacy that we enjoy what we 
have today because of his vision and actions. 


To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations oi all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To 
ipportunity lor .ill to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor re< reation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
til the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety tor persons and property in 
connecdoi nting and fishing; To provide outreach programs and materials that roster an awareness ot and appre- 

ciation tor Virginias (Uh and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 





Bob McDonnell, Governor 


Subsidized this publication 

Douglas W. Domenech 



Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 


Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
J. Brent Clarke, III, Great Falls 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
Ben Davenport, Chatham 
Garry L. Gray, Bowling Green 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon O. Turner, Fincastle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 


Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Contributing Editors 

Emily Pels, Art Director 

Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 

Printing by Progress Printing Plus, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia midlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published mon 
by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland I : ish 
Send all subscription orders and address changes to Vir] 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 830, Boone, Iowa 50036. Addn 
other communications concerning this publication to ) 
ginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 1 1 104, 4010 West Broad Street, 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rate an 
$12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 per i u 
back issue, subject to availability. Out-of-country r. 
$24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. funds. No re- 
funds for amounts less than $5.00. To subscribe, call toll- 
free (800) 710-9369. POSTMASTER: Pleas: 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife. P.O. Box 830, Boone, 
Iowa 50036. Postage for periodicals paid at Richmond 
ginia and additional entry offices. 

Copyright 2012 by the Virginia Department of Garni rn 
Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afford 
to all persons an equal access to Department programs and 
tacilities without regard to race, color, religion, national ori- 
gin, disability, sex, or age. If you believe that you have been 
discriminated against in any program, activity or lacilir 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and Inland 
Fisheries. ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broad 
Street.) P. O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, Virginia 23230- 1 104 

This publication is intended for general informational pur- 
poses only and every effort has been made to ensure its ac- 
curacy. Ihe information contained herein does no 
a legal representation of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. 
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fishel 
not assume responsibility for any change in dates, regula- 
tions, or information that may occur after publication. 







The New 

South River 

A private-public 

partnership enables 

access to a new section 

of this heralded 

trout stream. 

story by Tee Clarkson 
photos by Dwight Dyke 

There are some days when it is simply a 
crime to have to work indoors; like we 
have gone astray and made a terrible 
mistake in defining success, or value, or 
wealth by dollars earned or by hours logged as 
a cog in some droning machine. If I were in 
charge, no one would work in October. There 
would be some other months too, but I 
would start with October. 

This was one of those October days that 
makes a person venture down such paths of 
thought, to no avail I might 
add other than stirring a 
strange feeling of nostalgia for 
days that never really existed 
in the first place. 

It was still dark when I 
left Richmond and stayed 
that way west into Louisa 
County before I could finally 
see hints of the sun rising be- 
hind me. I was headed to the 
newly opened special regula- 
tion section of the South 
River. It was one of the first 
really cool mornings of fall, 
one when a few more layers 
are warranted but sometimes 
forgotten, and maybe even in- 
tentionally just so one might 
feel the first sting of fall in the 

The history of this new 
fishery, opened to the public 
in January 20 1 1 , is complicat- 
ed. Like any endeavor involv- 
ing the setting aside of private property for 
public access, establishing the upper South 
River special regulation section took years to 
accomplish and many dedicated folks along 

Harold Tate and Paul Bugas (R) look on as Tom 
Benzing lands a South River brown trout. 

the way in order to make it happen. The re- 
sult: four and a half miles of beautiful trout 
water the public can now enjoy year round. 

Many of the people instrumental in 
making this stretch of water a sustainable and 
public fishery were kind enough to meet me 
along the river this October morning. In fact, 
was amazed at the outpouring of help and 
generosity I encountered in researching and 
putting together this article. I guess I 
shouldn't have been surprised after the work 
these folks had already put in to make this 
project a success for the public. 

As I pulled into the parking lot, I was 
greeted by many of them — Trout Unlimited 
members, fly shop owners, Department staff, 
local fly fishermen. All had volunteered their 
time to work along the river. We stood in the 
lot for a while, blowing warm breath in our 
clasped hands and sipping the remnants of 
the mornings coffee, swapping fish stories, of 
course, and a little history of the South River. 




•- •*?., 

• » / 

• =» 



In the mid- to late '80s the DGIF estab- 
lished a delayed harvest trout fishery on two 
miles of the South River in the city of Waynes- 
boro. During the course of the stocking 
process, staff deposited some surplus brown 
trout in the upper segments. Reports from 
fishermen related that some of these trout were 
surviving, and not just in the cold months, but 
year-round. Corbin Dixon, a longtime mem- 
ber of Trout Unlimited, initiated contact with 
Waynesboro Nurseries, which owns several 
miles of river access along the upper South, 
about allowing public access for fishing. 
Corbin was not successful at first, but finally, 
in early 2008 Waynesboro Nurseries gener- 
ously agreed to work with Trout Unlimited 
and the Department (DGIF) to establish a 
trophy trout program and allow public access. 

The Shenandoah Chapter of Trout Un- 
limited, its third oldest chapter boasting some 
1,200-plus members, quickly formed the 
South River Steering Committee, founded 

and headed by Urbie Nash 
(who also played a key role 
in helping create the fish- 
ery at Mossy Creek) and 
Harold Tate (who set up 
this meeting along the river 
today and, even more im- 
portantly, was going to 
take me fishing later in the 
afternoon). The aim of the 
committee was to build 
public and resource profes- 
sional support for estab- 
lishing a trophy fishery 
along the 4.5 miles of the 
Waynesboro Nurseries 
property. The committee 
included representatives 
from Trout Unlimited, Larry Mohn of DGIF, 
the state departments of Environmental 
Quality and Conservation and Recreation, 
the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation 

Here, Paul Bugas poses next to the marked trail 
along the special regulation section of the 
upper South River: 2 fish per day, 16" or 
greater, no bait, single point hook. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 


Free permits are required to fish the 
special regulation section of the 
South River. Permits are available at 
Stone Soup Bookstore and South 
River Fly Shop, opened by Kevin Little 
and Shenandoah TU Chapter President 
Tommy Lawhome. Permits are also 
available from Dominion Outdoors 
in Fishersville, and will soon be 
available from the Department at 

For more information, go to: 



Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the city 
of Waynesboro and Augusta County. Urbie 
Nash worked out the "fine print" with Way- 
nesboro Nurseries, garnered support for the 
project from the city, and even helped raise 
money for signs and parking areas. 

Aquatics Program Manager Paul Bugas, 
with the DGIF, brought a backpack shocker 
this morning so that we might take a quick 
sample from the river. As the group left the 
parking lot, a small flock of Canada geese flew 
low over the water, heading upstream. And 
while these were most certainly resident birds, 
their passing still indicated a shift toward fall, 
cooler weather, and the migrations of water- 
fowl. One does not notice these things from 
behind a desk. 

Once reaching the river, it didn't take 
long before Paul had several beautiful brown 
trout, eight to ten inches in length each. These 
were likely fish from the most recent stocking 
of 1 0,000 fingerlings. After all of the work, 
these netted trout represent the hope — the 
future — of this fishery. 

Paul is quick to point out the impor- 
tance of so many organizations working to- 
gether on the project. "There is no way this 
project could have come off the ground," he 
says, "if not for the partnership of TU, DGIF, 
Dupont, Dominion, numerous private resi- 
dential landowners, and Waynesboro Nurs- 
eries working together for a common goal." 

Much of the trail clearing work was performed by volunteers of TU, Shenandoah Chapter, like 
Richard Landreth who uses a machete to cut back overgrown vegetation. 

DGIF biologist Paul Bugas samples trout and other living organisms in the river through 

Paul's role, and the role of the DGIF, is 
stocking fish, monitoring their population 
growth, and setting regulations. As important 
as anything, though, their involvement pro- 
vides a comfort level for landowners who 
allow public access to the river over private 
property. That is perhaps the biggest victory 
in this entire project and provides hope for 
future projects in other, no-access areas. 

Securing public access across private 
property was largely the job of Harold Tate 
and other members of TU. They reached out 

to dozens and dozens of landowners and ulti- 
mately secured permission from 49 of them 
to allow public access along the river — the 
biggest by far being the Waynesboro Nurs- 
eries. This was no small task here in Virginia 
where public access is notoriously hard to 
come by, especially on trout streams. 

There was one more stop for the group 
before Harold and I could start fishing. We 
headed upstream to check out what makes 
this fishery possible in the first place: the 
springs. Tom Benzing, a professor in the 

Department of Integrated Science and Tech- 
nology at James Madison University and an 
avid fly fisherman and TU member, was in 
charge of taking the initial stream tempera- 
tures to determine if a year-round trout fish- 
ery would be sustainable on the South River. 
Tom established temperature sensors along 
the waterway and found that a multitude of 
springs would and did provide enough cold 
water, even during summer months, to allow 
for the survival of trout year round. This im- 
portant finding gave the green light to the 
project. Sure enough, as we drove upstream to 
the far reaches of the nursery property, we saw 
a bubbling spring in the middle of the river, 
which is just one of many throughout the 
upper South River. 

By this point it was time for lunch and 
gearing up for some afternoon fishing. As the 
rest of the group dispersed to return to other 
obligations, Harold and I sat on the bumpers 
of our cars, rigging our rods, taking an occa- 
sional bite of a sandwich, discussing fly fish- 
ing on this river and others, and generally 
appreciating the fine afternoon. There was no 
rush to get to the water. When you rush in fly 
fishing, bad things happen: leaders tangle, 
fish spook. There are plenty of situations in 
life that require hasty movements and 
thoughts, but fly fishing for trout is not one of 

Eventually we wandered over to the 
river. Harold pointed me to a run he thought 
would have some fish in it. Sure enough, as I 
stood above it on a steep bank I could see 
dozens of trout finning in the clear water and 
rising occasionally to eat small mayflies from 
the surface. There was a time in my life when a 
moment like this brought great excitement, 
when I might slip down to the water, hastily 
choose a fly, and start flailing about in vain. 
But as cliche as it might sound, as I have got- 
ten older I feel more of an appreciation for 
just being outside on a beautiful day, a fly rod 
in hand, looking at trout in healthy habitat. I 
would punch the clock for "The Man" tomor- 
row, and the day after, and the day after that. 
Today, I was here. On a crisp day in October, I 
would catch these fish, or not. It really didn t 
matter. Mosdy I was thankful for the day and 
the people who made it possible for me to fish 
these waters, i* 

Tee Clarkson is an English teacher at Deep Run 
High School in Henrico Co. and runs Vhginia 
Fishing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 

©Tommy Kirkland 

Fake Out A Gobbler 

pring gobbler season wasn't 
going too well for Brian Healy, 
so when he finished work early 
one day several years ago, he wasn't sure he 
was going to hunt. The season was winding 
down and he had little to show for his efforts 
so far. 

"I had the time and it was legal to hunt 
all day then, so I figured I had nothing to 
lose," he recalls. 

Instead of walking through the woods 
with a box call in his hands and yelping every 
100 yards or so, the 51 -year-old Powhatan 
painter decided to try something different. 
He carried four turkey decoys into a field, 
placed them 20 yards from where he planned 
to sit, and settled in for a long wait. Turns out, 
the wait was short. 

"I'd been seeing turkeys in the area on 
and off through the season, but I couldn't get 
a gobbler to come in," he says. 

Healy let out a few yelps on a box call 

Increase your chance of success with a decoy. 

and was immediately answered by a gobbler 
at the far end of the field. The big torn stepped 
into the pasture, spotted the decoys and ran 
1 50 yards, stopping just a few feet from them. 
Healy was back at his truck, bird in hand, be- 
fore the engine had time to cool. He might 
have tagged that gobbler without the decoys, 
but he's not sure. However, he is certain that 
the decoys proved an important part of the 

Turkey decoys can be that effective. In 
fact, Capron residentTommy Barham remem- 
bers telling a friend about how well they work. 

"He said they ought to be illegal after I 
told him about all the turkeys I was killing," 
recalls Barham. 

They aren't illegal, but one thing's for 
sure: A decoy, or several, can increase your 
odds of success in a sport known for soaring 
highs and depressing lows. Turkey hunting by 
itself is an addictive, thrilling pursuit. Put a 
gobbler on the ground and you'll feel like you 


climbed Mount Everest. When things go 
wrong, however, it can make the most dedi- 
cated spring gobbler hunter wonder why he 
isn't on a golf course instead of in the turkey 

Decoys aren't fool-proof, though. Sim- 
ply sticking one in die ground in front of you 
isn't the ticket to a notch in your hunting li- 
cense. You have to know when, where, and 
how to use them. As Healy learned, they can 
actually be a liability at times. 

Fields Rule 

He was hunting a large block of mature hard- 
woods near his home several years ago and a 
gobbler was answering every time Healy let 
out a few yelps. A jake and two hen decoys 
stood just 20 yards in front of him and the 
gobbler was closing the distance fast. That is, 
until it saw the decoys. 

"He turned and ran like I shot at him," 
says Healy. 



rt ^ 

f 'J 

.' >%F 


This Spring 

©Tommy Kirkland 

by David Hart 

Turns out, he wasn't the only one who 
had the exact same experience with gobblers 
and decoys in deep woods. He rarely uses de- 
coys in woods now, but when he does, Healy 
typically sets a single hen decoy about 1 5 
yards to his left or right so the gobbler is fo- 
cused on the hen and not on him. Barham 
also shuns decoys in woods, but like Healy, 
he almost always uses them when he's hunt- 
ing a field. Neither hunter knows why they 
work so well in fields but not in woods, but 
one thing's for sure: Gobblers don't just walk 
to a decoy in a field; they often run to them. 

"Gobblers come to decoys for two rea- 
sons," says Barham, "to breed or to fight. 
Gobblers establish a pecking order in the 
spring and a dominant bird will often come 
to another gobbler to establish dominance. 
They are very competitive and they don't like 
sharing their territory with another gobbler, 
so when they see another gobbler, they come 
looking for a fight." 

In some cases, that can backfire. A 
strutting gobbler decoy can intimidate 
younger birds, particularly two-year-olds, 

Calling is important with or without a decoy, but once a gobbler spots your decoy, drop the call and 
pick up your shotgun. 

which will often shy away from a mature 
gobbler decoy. He's seen it happen on nu- 
merous occasions, but he admits there isn't 
much you can do about it, at least not at that 
moment. When it does happen, Barham 
will use a jake (a juvenile male) decoy the 
next time because jakes are at the bottom of 

the pecking order. Some decoy companies sell 
jake decoys, but making a strutting jake 
decoy is as simple as taking a pair of scissors to 
an adult gobbler tail fan and shortening the 
outer primary tail feathers by an inch or so 
while leaving the four middle feathers full 


APRIL 2012 ♦ 11 

Safety First 

Turkey hunting is safe. But sometimes, 
a thoughtless hunter will do anything to 
tag a gobbler, including trespassing or 
shooting before they identify their tar- 
get. That's why Kolich always considers 
worst-case scenarios when he sets up 
his decoys. For example, when he hunts 
within sight of a road, he makes sure he 
sits off to the side of his decoys in case 
someone takes a pot-shot from their 
truck window. 

"You also don't want to put them 
in a trail or logging road in a way that 
someone might take a quick shot when 
they come around a corner and see 
what they think is a gobbler," he says. 

Although there is no consensus of 
whether or not it spooks turkeys, some 
hunters wrap an orange band around a 
tree near their location. It can serve as a 
warning to others in the area. Hunters 
should also wear blaze orange when 
walking to and from their calling posi- 
tion and when setting up or moving de- 
coys. Never wear white, blue, or red 

The Department also recom- 
mends that you choose a calling posi- 
tion that will provide you with a 
backstop as wide as your shoulders and 
will protect you from the top of your 
head down. If you suspect the presence 
of another hunter, call out in a loud 
voice and remain hidden until the other 
hunter acknowledges you. 

Bottom line? Always assume an- 
other hunter is after the turkey you are 
working, even if you are the only one 
with permission to hunt that farm. Set 
your decoys in a way that you won't be 
in the line of fire. Of course you never 
know where someone else might come 
from, but consider trails, logging roads, 
and other obvious access points when 
you set up in a field or in the woods. 
Above all, don't shoot at something you 
haven't positively identified, even if it 
looks real. 

Using four or more decoys, including a strutting gobbler, can duplicate an early season situation 
where gobblers travel with several hens. 

Big Spreads 

A jake mixed in with several hens can also 
pull in a jealous gobbler. Turkeys are often 
still traveling in groups in the early spring and 
its not uncommon to see either a group of 
gobblers together or a gobbler with a harem 
of hens. That's why Bob Kolich lugs a sack of 
decoys through the early morning darkness 
in the first few weeks of the season. His 
spread includes three hens — a squatting hen, 
a feeder, and an alert hen — as well as a semi- 
strutting gobbler. If a single fake turkey looks 
convincing, says Kolich, four decoys appear 
four times as realistic. In fact, Healy knows 


Spring Turkey 

Hunt Day 

April 7, 2012 


some hunters who set out eight or ten at a 

"Their philosophy is to imitate a whole 
flock of turkeys like you often see in the early 
spring. They say it works, but I don't see a 
need to use that many," he says. "It's a lot of 
work carrying that many decoys around." 

Like Kolich, he prefers three or four, in- 
cluding a strutting gobbler and two or three 
hens — one of them squatting, which imitates 
a receptive female. He places the torn close to 
a squatting female as if the gobbler was 
preparing to mount the hen and the other 
two hens off to the side five yards or so. That 
can incite a real gobbler to challenge the fake 

"Gobblers always come to the gobbler 
decoy. I position the decoy so that it is side- 
ways to me, which gives me a clear shot at the 
bird when he's facing the decoy," notes 
Kolich. "If you face the gobbler decoy directly 
away from you, the real gobbler will be on the 
other side of the decoy and you won't have a 
clear shot." 

That's not to say you need to lug four 
bulky decoys to your favorite spot all season 
long. Both Kolich and Barham will also use a 
single strutting gobbler decoy as the season 
progresses. Because mature gobblers are often 
itching for a fight early in the season, they 
come running to that single bird to challenge 
him. As the season progresses, however, those 
older birds are more focused on breeding, 


A red-dot-type scope can help you stay on your target, whether or not you use a decoy during 
the spring gobbler season. 

which is why Barham will remove the gobbler 
decoy from his set-up and use a single Primos 
hen decoy instead. He says a gobbler is more 
willing to approach a single hen later in the 
season because many of the real hens are sit- 
ting on nests and are unreceptive to the ad- 
vances of a male bird. 

"I think they just get tired of fighting, 
too," he adds. 

Sit, Stay, Be Quiet 

How many you use is somewhat less impor- 
tant than how you use them or what you do 
when you are waiting for a bird to show up. 
All three men quit calling once they know a 
gobbler has seen their decoys. That is, unless 
the bird hangs up on the far edge of a large 
field. When that happens, Healy will call ag- 
gressively, mostly because he figures he has 
nothing to lose. Sometimes it works, some- 
times it doesn't, but if a gobbler has seen the 
decoys and doesn't approach, that doesn't 
mean he's gone for good. 

"He may be making his rounds with his 
hens, but once his hens either go sit on their 
nests or ignore him long enough, he may 
come looking in the field again," he notes. 
"I've killed many birds that came back into 
the field several hours later." 

Barham agrees. He recalls a torn that re- 
fused to come into a field until Barham made 
a gobble on a shaker-type call. That challenge 
brought the bird into the field, but once it saw 

a lone jake decoy, Barham didn't make anoth- 
er call. He didn't need to. The gobbler ran to 
the decoy. 

"There were two real hens in the field, so 
I assume that older bird saw the jake as a 
threat," he recalls. 

The lone decoy was just 25 yards from 
where Barham was sitting, a good all-purpose 
distance. Anything closer and an approach- 
ing gobbler may see you as he's walking to the 
decoys. And you might miss what seems like 
an easy shot. Turkey chokes throw a tight pat- 
tern, so tight it's almost like shooting a rifle at 
anything closer than 1 or 1 5 yards. 

"You want to let that pattern spread out a 
little," notes Healy. 

However, placing decoys beyond 25 
yards could result in a blown opportunity if a 
gobbler is leery of the decoys. He may hang 
up just out of shotgun range, costing you a 
rare chance at success. Of course there are no 
guarantees in turkey hunting, not even when 
you use a decoy. Using one, however, will in- 
crease your odds as long as you use it right. ?f 

David Hart is a fall-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contributor 
to numerous national ' hunting and 'fishing 

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Young hunters need to taste success early on in order to stay interested. A decoy can help 
increase the odds of that success. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 13 




mwf i ■BoDDsts 

American shad are once 

again swimming the 

currents of the nations river. 

by King Montgomery 

ach spring as the hickory and 
American shad are in the tidal 
Potomac River on their annu- 
al spawning migration, a 
member of the Northern Virginia Chapter of 
Trout Unlimited emails shad reports to other 
members who might be interested in fishing 
for these engaging silvery members of the her- 
ring family. Much of the fishing from the 
Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., 
shore or from a boat takes place in the vicinity 
of Fletcher's Boat House on the D.C. side, 
upstream to beyond the Chain Bridge in 
northern Arlington County. 

The past several years have seen shad 
runs bring in more and more fish to the Po- 
tomac River system, and the American shad 
are showing numbers not seen in many 
decades. The good shad numbers are a direct 
result of a restocking program for American 
shad begun in 1995. The congressionally- 
mandated Interstate Commission on the Po- 
tomac River Basin (ICPRB) led the way, with 
the assistance of local watermen and the U.S. 
Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)— particu- 
larly, the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatch- 
ery near Charles City. Since 2003, ICPRB has 
worked with the Department (DGIF) to use 
Potomac River American shad to restock the 
Rappahannock River. 

Since 1995, when the stocking pro- 
grams began, over 21 million American shad 
fry have been placed in the Potomac, and 
more than 30 million in the Rappahannock. 
Currently the shad populations in both rivers 
have increased significantly and hopefully in 
time will only get better. 

American shad numbers in the tidal 
rivers of the eastern seaboard from Nova Sco- 
tia to Florida weren't always low. 

At Mt. Vernon, George Washington farmed not only the land but the fertile Potomac River. At times, 
fish like shad, striped bass, and sturgeon made up 40% of his annual income. 

A Brief Shad History 

In 1608, on a journey up the Potomac from 
the Chesapeake Bay, Captain John Smith 
wrote of seeing more fish in one place than he 
had ever seen before. The Indians along the 
river relied on fish for food and barter. When 
European settlers established a foothold in 
the New World, sturgeon were plentiful 
enough to support a major fishery and Amer- 
ican shad ran up the river by the millions. 

The Potomac also played largely in the 
early struggles of this young country, of 
course. In 1 8 1 4, the British sailed up the river 
and attacked the American port city of 
Alexandria. Another force sailed up the 
Patuxent River and marched to Washington, 
D.C, where they wreaked havoc, including 
the burning of the White House. During the 
American Civil War, the river was a boundary 
between opposing armies and ways of life. In 
battles at Harpers Ferry, Antietam, Gettys- 
burg, and dozens of other locations, the 
Potomac played a vital role as a natural obsta- 
cle or a supply line for one side or the other. 

Lamenting the demise of the annual up- 
stream spawning runs of the shad on the 
Concord and Merrimack rivers in New Eng- 
land, Henry David Thoreau wrote: "Still pa- 
tiently, almost pathetically, with instinct not 

to be discouraged, not to be reasoned [Thor- 
eau's italics] with revisiting their old haunts, as 
if their stern fates would relent, and still met 
by the Corporation with its dam. Poor shad! 
Where is thy redress?" A few lines later he ex- 
claims, "Who hears the fishes when they cry?" 
(A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 

Gentleman farmer George Washington 
had some pretty nice waterfront property at 
his home, Mount Vernon, and he mined the 
fertile Potomac River well. At times, fish from 
the river, particularly American shad, striped 
bass, and Atlantic sturgeon, made up about 
40 percent of his annual income. 

As agriculture and industry developed 
and prospered in the fertile Potomac plain, 
by-products of our ignorance and unconcern 
turned the river into a foul-smelling, seem- 
ingly stagnant, almost lifeless body of water. 
Add severe overfishing by commercial inter- 
ests for centuries, and by 1 960 the river was 
virtually dead. The Clean Water Act of 1 972 
and subsequent laws established a long-term 
plan and funds for cleaning up and maintain- 
ing the Potomac. Fortunately, by the 1980s 
the river was on its way to ecological recovery, 
and has become one the best tidal largemouth 
bass fishing rivers in the country. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 15 

Waterman and river advocate, the late Louis Harley helped fisheries biologists by collecting 
American shad for propagation efforts. 


The Interstate Commission on the 

Potomac River Basin: 

Click on "Projects" and select American 

Shad Restoration Project. 

Virginia Department of Game & Inland 

Living Classrooms of the National Capital 

Let the River Run Silver Again: How One 
School Helped Return the American Shad 
to the Potomac River— and How You Too 
Can Help Restore Our Living Waters by 
Sandy Burk, 

Shad Fishing by C. Boyd Pfeiffer (2002). 
The best book on sportfishing for shad. and other online 
book stores. 

The Last Waterman 

Louis Harley plied the Potomac River from 
his home on Northern Virginia's Mason 
Neck for well over a half-century. He netted 
any fish that was legal to commercial take and 
sold it on the market. As he entered his twi- 
light years, Harley began to give back to the 
river by collecting American shad during the 
spring runs to help reinvigorate that ever-de- 
clining population. In 2004 I joined Harley 
in his old, well-used but seaworthy boat to 
gather some shad for wonderful purposes. 

ICPRB s Director for Living Resources, 
Jim Cummins, his young son Dirick, and 
volunteer Rob Roberts from Trout Unlimit- 
ed's headquarters in Arlington, all helped feed 
out the long gill net over the stern of the boat. 
Soon we could see the numerous bright or- 
ange floats drifting with the tide. Harley 
repositioned the boat and the net was hauled 
in by hand. Squirming silvery American 
shad, dozens of them, were disentangled and 
put into a large holding tank that took up 
much of the room on the boat. 

After several more sets we had enough 
buck and roe shad, and it was time to ren- 
dezvous with DGIF fisheries biologists who 
were waiting for us on a rocky stretch of the 
shoreline of Fort Belvoir. The biologists 
stripped eggs from the female shad and milt 
from the males to fertilize the eggs, and pre- 
pared the mixture for shipment to the King & 
Queen Fish Hatchery in Stevensville. 

Those fertilized Potomac eggs yielded 
millions of shad over the nine years of the re- 
stocking program, and the fry have been 
planted in the Rappahannock River, the Po- 
tomac River, and the Susquehanna River in 
Pennsylvania. As pan of the Potomac pro- 
gram, some of the eggs went to school chil- 
dren in the greater Washington Metropolitan 
Area, comprising VA, MD, and D.C. 

Over the years more than 200,000 
young students have participated in raising 
shad from eggs, then releasing them into the 
Potomac. This "Schools in Schools" program 
is a partnership with Living Classrooms of the 
National Capital Region and the Anacostia 
Watershed Society, and has also involved the 
Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Po- 
tomac Conservancy. To date, the children 

Jim Cummins (ICPRB) and Rob Roberts (TU), 
front, help retrieve the long gill net and 
disentangle shad for egg and milt collection. 


have returned over 300,000 shad fry to the 


A delightful book by Sandy Burke 
chronicles the shad restoration program in 
one of the schools that participated in the pro- 
gram. Let the River Run Silver Again is avail- 
able through the ICPRB website. 

Now & the Future 

The Potomac River American shad popula- 
tion continues to grow and the trend remains 
strong, both in the number of returning adult 
spawners as well as the number of juvenile 
shad produced in the Potomac. The 2000 
placement of a fish ladder by the Army Corps 
of Engineers on the Brookmont Dam at Lit- 
tle Falls allows anadromous fishes access to 
traditional spawning grounds all the way up- 
river to the natural barrier of Great Falls. And 
improvements in the water quality up and 
down river help to improve the medium in 
which all fishes live. More needs to be done. 

Shad stocks are not quite up to catch and 
keep sportfishing yet — the river shad have 
been protected since 1982. If the upward 
trend continues in numbers, a sportfishing 

Outdoors writer Beau Beasley hefts a mature shad that hit a fly in the Potomac River near McLean, 
and quickly releases it. 

Through the process of "milking," biologists 
collect eggs from female shad. 

limit could be set; meanwhile, any American 
shad caught by anglers must be returned im- 
mediately to the river. A very limited num- 
ber of incidentally captured shad are now 
allowed to be harvested by specific commer- 
cial fishing gear, so you may be buying Po- 
tomac shad in the market. Hopefully, 
anglers will soon be able to take one home as 
well, since the fish and their roe are delicious. 

The ICPRB, the USFWS, the DGIF, 
and the MD DNR continue to monitor the 
progress of the shad restoration program. 
The ICPRB-led program now assists the De- 
partment's restoration efforts in the Rappa- 
hannock River, where DGIF has been 
working for years, particularly since the dam 
at Fredericksburg was removed in 2004. 

The last Fairfax County full-time wa- 
terman, Louis Harley, passed away in 2009. 
He dedicated many of his final years to help- 
ing return American shad stocks to the Po- 
tomac River and to educating people about 
what a great fish these silvery creatures really 
are. His two sons, Mike and Brad, carry on 

that tradition as they ply the waters of the 
Potomac part-time with the knowledge and 
concern they learned from their fine father. 

Migratory shad, both the hickory and 
even more so the American, were particular- 
ly hard hit by our abuses during the past 
three centuries, but now these marvelous 
fish are staging a come back and soon could 
hold their rightful place in the ecology and 
history of the nations river. 

I'm very grateful that people like Louis 
Harley and his son, Jim Cummins, at 
ICPRB; the men and women of the 
USFWS, DGIF, MD DNR, and many 
other fine organizations; and the hundreds 
of volunteers including the school children 
who raise and release shad answered Thor- 
eau's question. They heard the fishes when 
they cried. ?*• 

King Montgomery has contributed many articles 
and photos to Virginia Wildlife over the past two 
decades. He thanks Jim Cummins of ICPRB and 
Mike Isel of DGIF for their help with this article. 
Contact King at kinganglerl @aol com. 

NOTE: A moratorium on river herring went into effect January 1, 2012. It is unlawful 
for any person to possess any river herring in Virginia. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 17 

Hydnlla, photo courtesy of Pete Huber 

With a little thought and effort, we can stop them in their tracks. 

by Cnstina Santiestevan 

From our backyards to our favorite state 
parks and management areas, non-na- 
tive species can be found throughout 
Virginia. While some are relatively harmless, 
others present a serious threat for the people, 
ecosystems, and native species of the state. 

What are invasive species? 

Fire ants. Purple loosestrife. The fungus that 
causes chestnut blight. Invasive species, such 
as these, can be plants, animals, or pathogens. 
A species is considered invasive if it satisfies 
two conditions. First, an invasive species is an 
introduced species; it is not native to the area 
where it is considered invasive. Second, an in- 
vasive species causes ecological or economic 
harm to the area where it is introduced. Some 
invasive species also harm human health. An 
introduced species that does not cause signifi- 
cant harm is not considered invasive. For ex- 
ample, dandelions are an introduced species 
in the United States, but they are not consid- 
ered an invasive species. 

How do they get here? 

Some invasive species get here intentionally. 
We plant them as ornamentals in our yards or 
gardens, grow them as crops for ourselves or 
livestock, and use them for erosion control 
along highways and other disturbed areas. 
Not all of these plants will become invasive, 
but many of our worst invaders are plants that 
were once grown by gardeners, farmers, or 
land managers. Released pets — fish that have 
grown too large for their aquarium, for exam- 
ple — can also become invasive if environ- 
mental conditions suit them. 

Other invasive species get here acciden- 
tally. They hitch a ride in ships' ballast water, 
travel as stowaways in cargo or luggage, or ar- 
rive with lumber, plants, or seeds, hidden in 
the soil or plant material. 

Why care? 

Invasive species can wreak havoc on native 
species and habitats, agricultural production, 
human health and recreation, and much 
more. One 2005 study — "Update on the en- 
vironmental and economic costs associated 
with alien-invasive species in the United 



States," published by Ecological Economics — 
puts the annual cost of invasive species in this 
country at $120 billion. That number has al- 
most certainly risen since. The Virginia De- 
partment of Conservation and Recreation 
estimates that invasive species cost the state ap- 
proximately $ 1 billion every year. 

But the costs of invasive species extend 
far beyond dollar amounts. It was an invading 
fungus that wiped out the American chestnut 
in the early 1 900s. The West Nile Virus — acci- 
dentally introduced from Africa — threatens 
the health of both wildlife and humans. And, 
the brown marmorated stink bug is a recent 
invader from Asia, doing great harm to crops. 

How do we get rid of them? 

Unless they are very recent arrivals, invasive 
species are extremely difficult to eradicate. 
Many of the traits that allow them to invade 
new environments — adaptable, fast growing, 
rapid reproduction — also allow them to evade 
eradication. This means that most invasive 
species cannot be eliminated from their new 
range, but they can sometimes be controlled. 
Biologists, land managers, and volunteers may 


Left, aerial view of upstream segment of 
Claytor Lake revealing part of 226-acre hydrilla 
bed. Once established, hydrilla chokes out 
other underwater life and fouls boat props. 

attempt to control invasive species by physi- 
cally removing them from the environment, 
spraying pesticides or herbicides, modifying 
the habitat to better suit natives, or — rarely — 
releasing the natural predators of the targeted 

Often, the easiest way to control invasive 
species is to prevent their introduction or 
spread in the first place. 

Can I help? 

Absolutely! There are many things we can all 
do to help prevent, eradicate, or control inva- 
sive species. For example: 

O Are you a boater, hunter, or hiker? If so, be 
careful to thoroughly clean your cloth- 
ing, gear, and equipment (especially boat 
propellers) after each outing; some inva- 
sive species are notorious for hitching 
rides to new habitats. Learn more: 
O Are you a gardener or landscaper? Ifso, ed- 
ucate yourself about popular ornamen- 
tal plants, and learn to identify the 
species and varieties that are known in- 
vaders in Virginia. Barberry, privet, and 

burning bush, for example, are all highly 
invasive. Learn more: 
reg3esd 1 /garden/invasives.htm. 

O Do you own any pets? Ifso, please do not 
release them into the wild. Several of 
Virginia's worst invaders — snakehead 
fish, for example — became established 
in the state because people released their 
unwanted pets. Learn more: 

O Are you a hunter or angler? Ifso, consider 
deliberately targeting invasive species, 
many of which are actually quite tasty. 
Snakehead fish are considered a desir- 
able food fish in their native range (see 
June 2011 issue of VW). Learn more: 

O Do you ever use firewood? Ifso, please be 
sure to only collect firewood from your 
immediate region. Some invasive 
species, including the emerald ash borer, 
will hitch a ride on firewood and other 
raw lumber products. Learn more: 

O Are you a parent, friend, or community 
member? Ifso, please share your knowl- 
edge about invasive species with family, 
friends, and neighbors. Learn more: 

Five of Virginia's 
Most Wanted Invaders 

Red Imported Fire Ant 

These tiny red-and-black ants pack a punch 
that seriously exceeds their size. Fire ants are 
fiercely protective of their colonies and will 
attack en-masse anything they perceive as a 
threat. Because fire ants prefer to build their 
dome-shaped homes in sunny areas, they are 
often found in lawns, agricultural fields, and 
playgrounds. Fire ants readily out-compete 
native ant species and pose a threat to ground- 
nesting animals, such as rabbits and many 

Fire Ants 

Photo courtesy of Stephen Ausrmus, USDA-ARS 

Where did they come from? Red imported 
fire ants are native to South America. They ar- 
rived in Mobile, Alabama, as stowaways on 
cargo ships in the 1 930s. 

Where are they now? Since their arrival in 
Alabama, fire ants have spread across much of 
the southeastern United States. They reached 
Virginia in 1989, and are now firmly estab- 
lished in the tidewater region. Scientists ex- 
pect that fire ants will eventually reach most 
of Virginia. 

What is Virginia doing about them? Vir- 
ginia has established a Federal Fire Ant Quar- 
antine for several counties and cities in 
Tidewater. This quarantine affects the ship- 
ment of goods that may facilitate the spread of 
fire ants within and beyond Virginia. Learn 


Also known as ailanthus, this weedy and fast- 
growing tree was once a popular choice for 
landscapes and street plantings. Now, tree-of- 
heaven is recognized as an aggressive invader 
that readily out-competes native species. 
These trees release a chemical that inhibits the 

Spotlight on Hydrilla 

In 2003, when Bill Kittrell first confirmed 
the presence of hydrilla in Claytor Lake, 
the invasive plant covered approximately 
40 of its 4,500 acres. By 2011, the weed 
covered 400 acres of the lake. "It's ex- 
panding fairly rapidly," confirms Kittrell, 
who manages aquatic resources in the 
southwest region for the Department. 
"Once you're infested with this exotic 
plant, it's very difficult to eradicate, if not 
impossible. All you can do is just try to 
manage it." 

Claytor Lake, which lies along the 
New River in southwestern Virginia, is 
where the state is waging its fiercest fight 
against the invasive plant. If hydrilla es- 
capes the lake— a popular destination for 
recreation and fishing— it could overtake 
parts of the New River, and expand its 
reach through Virginia and West Virginia. 
In an effort to prevent this, the state re- 
leased 6,000 Asian grass carp into the lake 
last May; several thousand more will be 
released in 2012. 

An exotic species used to fight an in- 
vasive species? Absolutely. 

Although wildlife managers are cau- 
tious about releasing non-native species 
into new environments, this is sometimes 
the only option when battling invasives. 
In this case, Asian grass carp are vegetari- 
an and are known to have an insatiable 
appetite for hydrilla. If all goes as planned, 
the carp will stay in Claytor Lake, and will 
help reduce the coverage of hydrilla to 
less than 100 acres— the Department's 
management goal. 

And if all doesn't go as planned, the 
state is ready. The fish are sterile, which 
means there is no risk that they will estab- 
lish a breeding population in Virginia. Be- 
fore releasing the fish, wildlife managers 
attached radio transmitters to 34 carp. 
These tracking devices confirm that the 
fish are staying in Claytor Lake and are set- 
tled in the areas where hydrilla grows the 
densest. If the fish move elsewhere, these 
radio transmitters will reveal their desti- 
nation. "We're going to be able to see if 
the fish move into the river," says Kittrell. 

Grass carp released into the lake to eat hydrilla 
will be traced via radio transmitters. 

growth of other plants, and can reduce the 
population of trees important to wildlife, such 
as oaks. 

Where did it come from? Tree-of-heaven is 
native to China, and came to the United 
States — by way of Europe — as an ornamental 
tree in 1 784. It was a popular landscape tree 
throughout the 1800s. 

Where is it now? This weedy tree is found 
across the United States, most commonly east 
of the Great Plains and west of the Rockies. 
Tree-of-heaven is established throughout Vir- 

What is Virginia doing about it? Tree-of- 
heaven can be controlled and locally eradicat- 
ed by cutting down trees and treating stumps 
with herbicides. Shenandoah National Park is 
actively working to remove the tree from the 
park. Learn more: 
science/ tree-of-heaven . h tm . 


Also known as waterweed, hydrilla is a sub- 
merged freshwater plant that creates dense 
monocultures wherever it grows and can com- 
pletely out-compete native plants. As a result, 
hydrilla significantly degrades fish habitat in 
natural ponds and reservoirs, and can nega- 
tively impact populations of game fish. 

Where did it come from? Hydrilla is native 
to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. It likely 
entered the United States via Florida in the 
1 960s, when aquarium hobbyists released the 
plant into local waterways. 

Zebra mussels spread rapidly underwater, 
robbing nutrients needed by other, native species. 


Grass carp. 

Where is it now? Since its introduction 
in Florida, hydrilla has spread throughout 
the southeast, north to Connecticut and 
west to Texas. Hydrilla is also found in Cali- 

What is Virginia doing about it? State 
and county governments manage several hy- 
drilla control programs. These programs in- 
corporate chemical herbicides, physical 
removal, or the introduction of biological 
control agents — such as animals that are 
known to eat hydrilla. State residents can 
help by thoroughly cleaning their boating, 
fishing, and diving equipment after each 
outing. See Spotlight on Hydrilla for more. 

Zebra Mussel 

These small, freshwater mussels — approxi- 
mately the size of your thumbnail — cause gi- 
gantic problems as invasive species. Zebra 
mussels attach to anything with a hard sur- 
face, including drainage pipes and native 
mussels. These filter feeders can become so 
overpopulated in some areas that they essen- 
tially clean the water of all its nutrients, rob- 
bing native species of their food source. 

Where did they come from? Zebra mus- 
sels are native to the lakes and inland seas of 
southeastern Russia. They probably traveled 
to the United States in the ballast water of 
ocean-going ships, and were first discovered 
in the Great Lakes in 1 988. 

Where are they now? Since 1988, zebra 
mussels have spread throughout several im- 

portant watersheds, including the Mississip- 
pi, Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado rivers, 
among others. Zebra mussels were first iden- 
tified in Virginia in 2003. 

What is Virginia doing about them? After 
zebra mussels were discovered in Prince 
William County's Millbrook Quarry, the De- 
partment — along with other partners — 
launched the nations very first attempt to 
eradicate the invasive shellfish. The attempt 
was successful, and no other populations of 
zebra mussel are currently known to exist in 
Virginia. However, the mussels remain com- 
mon elsewhere, which means that prevention 
efforts are ongoing. 

Learn more: 

Purple Loosestrife 

With its dense spike of colorful flowers and 
long blooming period, purple loosestrife 
seems too pretty to be an invasive. But, this 
rapidly-spreading plant quickly takes over 
marshy areas, often entirely out-competing 
native species. The result is a monoculture 
that offers little food or useful shelter for wet- 
land dwellers such as waterfowl and game 

Where did it come from? Purple loosestrife 
is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and 
Australia, and was once a popular choice for 
gardens and parks in the United States. 

Where is it now? Within the United 
States, purple loosestrife is in every state ex- 
cept Florida. 

What is Virginia doing about it? Purple 
loosestrife is listed as a noxious weed in the 
state of Virginia. Various state, county, and 
non-governmental control efforts are ongo- 
ing. Most projects include a combination of 
physical removal and herbicide use. Learn 
invasive_species. ?$■ 

Cristina Santiestevan writes about wildlife and the 
environment from her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge 


• Virginia Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries: 

• Virginia Department of Conservation 
and Recreation: 

• National Invasive Species Information 

• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 

• Center for Invasive Species and 
Ecosystem Health: 

• National Invasive Species Council: 

Purple loosestrife spreads rapidly in marshy areas and takes over more beneficial, native plants 
that offer food and shelter to wildlife. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 21 






A dedicated corps 
of volunteers and 

staff help maintain 

the delicate balance 

of wildflowers at 

the G. Richard 

Thompson WMA. 

by Marie Majarov 

CJ pringtime! Wildflowers! The 

, 3,967-acre G. Richard Thompson 
^J Wildlife Management Area takes 
center stage each year with its dazzling dis- 
play of ephemeral wildflowers, including a 
profusion of large-flowered trillium (Tril- 
lium grandiflorum), the largest contiguous 
stand of trillium in Virginia and possibly, 
all of North America. 

Located in northwestern Fauquier 
County, the wildlife management area 
(Thompson) is one of the most popular 
owned by the Department. A series of 
forested inclines and benches rise to the 
crest of the Blue Ridge where the Ap- 
palachian Trail meanders across the prop- 
erty. Acquired by the Department 
(DGIF) for preservation and recreational 
opportunities in the 1970s, there are 
semi-open areas, several major streams, 
and ecologically unique spring seeps. (See 
Virginia Wildlife, May 2001.) DGIF's 
Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail in- 
cludes stops here, as well. 

If you have never seen the extraordi- 
nary flowers that abound in this lovely lo- 
cale, a visit is definitely in order! You're in 
for a treat. It's breathtakingly beautiful 
everywhere you look. 

DGIF's Land and Facilities Manager, 

biologist Ron Hughes, is a naturalist with 

20 years of experience at Thompson. He 

a. calls the property "truly unique on many 

Trillium, lady's slipper, star chickweed, 
violets, and other wildflowers create a floral 
carpet (left). Here, a large-flowered trillium, 
Trillium grandiflorum. 

levels." It represents an ecosystem flourishing 
in a delicate balance, a treasury of flora and 
fauna, a haven for pollinators, exceptional 
outdoor opportunities, and ongoing, dedicat- 
ed conservation efforts by DGIF and part- 
ners: the Virginia Native Plant Society 
(VNPS), the Natural Heritage Program 
(NHP) of the Department of Conservation 
and Recreation, Virginia Master Naturalists, 
and last, but by no means least, fervent deer 
hunters. Yes, hunters play a critical role in 
managing this magical floral community. 
Keep reading. 

The Trillium 

Trillium are perennial members of the lily 
family. The "tri" is apt, as all trillium parts are 
arranged in threes or multiples of three: 

and stewardship") and entered into a coopera- 
tive agreement with the VNPS to protect these 
extraordinary trillium, as well as the rare, nod- 
ding trillium and yellow lady's slippers 
amongst them. VNPS President Sally Ander- 
son notes that Thompson was formally en- 
tered into the VNPS registry of our state's 
outstanding native plant sites "in accordance 
with our mission to protect native plants and 
the habitats that sustain them." 

The primary habitat at the management 
area is a secondary growth, deciduous forest — 
oak-hickory — notes Hughes. "Although due 
to the gypsy moth, only pockets of oak re- 
main. Lush hickory, ash, and distinctive tulip- 
trees predominate," he adds. Trillium 
bloomed here long ago before these trees, 
Hughes elaborates, and " . . .incredibly, a viable 

Hunters assist in the battle to protect native plants by keeping game animals, that would otherwise 
trample the plants, in check. 

leaves, waxy white petals that flush pink with 
age, sepals, pollen-coated stamens, and even 
internal reproductive structures. Ranging in 
heights of 6 to 20 inches, trillium love rich 
soils in undisturbed, wet, forested coves. 
Most trillium that is; remember, the trillium 
here are "unique." Hughes stresses that it is 
unusual to find this remarkable stand of tril- 
lium flowers, the buds of which open in 
sparkling shades of white to pale pink to 
deep rose, growing on a mountaintop of all 

In 1990, in recognition of this unique- 
ness, DGIF worked with the Natural Her- 
itage Program (whose mission is to conserve 
biodiversity through "inventory, protection, 

seed-bank remained after these slopes were 
cleared for agriculture." Trillium and other 
wildflowers returned when an undisturbed 
hardwood forest succeeded, providing their 
necessary shady habitat. You see, spring 
ephemerals race to bloom in the sunshine be- 
fore the canopy fills in, but their leaves need 
the summer shade to continue nourishing rhi- 
zomes for next year's blossoms. 

Trillium are important wildlife plants, 
providing cover for some and food for many. 
Pollinated by and supportive of beneficial 
populations of native bees, flies, butterflies, 
and even some beetles, the oily flesh (elaio- 
somes) around their seeds also attracts and is 
savored by native ants — dispersers of the 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 23 

seeds. Deer thoroughly enjoy devouring 
young tender trillium shoots... and here 
comes the good management efforts by 
hunters: keeping the deer population at rea- 
sonable levels. Hughes and Anderson both 
note that in the adjacent Sky Meadows State 
Park, the same mountain habitat where hunt- 
ing is not permitted, the deer population is 
prolific and there are no trillium! 

More Native Beauties 
and Wildlife 

Several glorious colonies of rare yellow lady's 
slippers, the largest of our wild orchids, are 
scattered throughout Thompson's rich woods. 
Their spectacular looks are designed to lure 
pollinators into visiting. Composite flowers, 
however, such as trout lilies, provide much eas- 
ier access. Think of them as good citizens that 
help stabilize soil, contribute important nutri- 
ents, and attract bumblebee queens. 

"Spring wildflowers are crucial for polli- 
nators," explains Dr. T'ai Roulston, UVA en- 
tomologist from nearby Blandy Experimental 
Farm. "The greatest diversity of bees occurs in 
the spring, with many species only active at 
this time. In spring, bumblebee queens found 
their colonies and honeybees make most of the 
honey they will make all year." 

Umbrella-like mayapples, bearing ele- 
gant white blossoms below their leaves, cluster 
along path edges and throughout the under- 
story. Ripe in late summer, mayapple fruits are 
relished by mammals, birds, and especially box 
turtles. Small critters like birds, frogs, and sala- 
manders throughout Thompson seek shelter 

and cover under these umbrellas and also the 
larger green leaves of the seep skunk cabbage 

Peeking out from around the millions 
(yes, millions) of trillium and profuse may- 
apples are additional springtime treasures: 
bloodroot, coltsfoot, showy orchis, colum- 
bine, wild geranium, star chickweed, wild gin- 
ger, toothworts, an array of violets in a whole 
host of colors, squawroot, Solomon's seal, 
spring-beauty, and rue-anemone. Redbud, 
flowering dogwood, and spicebush blossoms 
reach toward the sky and new young hickory 
trees often masquerade as spring flowers. More 
than 90 wildflower species in leaf, bud, or fruit 
can be observed here each spring! 

In summer, lush green foliage forms a 
rich canopy and understory. New flowers like 
magnificent red Canada lilies on long slender 
stalks and jewelweed absolutely glow; white 
flowers of black cohosh, wild hydrangea, and 
elderberries are scattered everywhere. Milk- 
weeds suited to forest habitat are available for 
monarchs and other butterflies. A multitude 
of swallowtails, sulphurs, mourning cloaks, 
red admirals, pearly crescentspots, and Eastern 
commas flutter about as do dragon- and dam- 
selflies. Woodland sunflowers, goldenrods, 
and asters are among the summer flowers 

VNPS President Sally Anderson and Carrie 
Blair pull and bag garlic mustard sprouts 
onsite to prevent the spread of this 
aggressive invasive. Photos ©Marie Majarov. 

Woodland sunflowers, Halianthussp., provide 
nectar to many pollinator species like the 
Hover fly which helps control aphids. 

stretching into fall and providing wonderful 
sources of nectar. 

Numerous game species call Thompson 
home. Bear, deer, turkey, small game, and 
furbearers all find plentiful food and shelter. 
See the link on page 25 and parking area 
kiosks for full hunting information. 

Birding is spectacular at the wildlife 
management area with its plethora of wood- 
land songbirds, including Neotropical mi- 
grants: warblers, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted 
grosbeak, thrushes (wood and verry) and 
wood-pewee. Of particular importance is the 
breeding population of cerulean warblers, a 




~-y ^ -SK 



*' £ 






Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum, has a creamy white blossom. Its fall fruit, a fleshy lemon-like 
berry, is enjoyed by mammals, birds, and especially, box turtles. 

species of special concern. Wildflowers sup- 
ply crucial necessities: food such as the berries 
born on the striking jack-in-the pulpit and 
even nesting opportunities. Yellowthroats are 
said to nest in the hollow of the skunk cab- 
bage spathe. 

Invasives and Management 

"Keeping the management area a beautiful, 
diverse forest ecosystem for all wildlife is an 
ongoing struggle," explains Hughes, "as there 
are so many invasives to manage today." First 
and foremost, management in the forested 
areas means not displacing native plants. For- 
tunately, the number of visitors who view the 
wildflowers here have been deeply respectful, 
preventing swift overwhelming invasions of 
damaging Japanese stilt-grass. 

In the milium area, VNPS takes a lead- 
ership role with the chief invasive found 
there: garlic mustard! In early spring, before 
garlic mustard sets thousands of long-lived 
seeds, and early enough not to trample pre- 
cious native species, VNPS members are 
joined by master naturalists and volunteers 
and hold a "garlic mustard pull" — scouring 
for garlic mustard sprouts which are immedi- 
ately pulled and bagged for disposal. 

Capable of self-pollination, garlic mus- 
tard is a severe threat to all species that depend 
on native plants for food. In its native Europe, 
30-plus species feed on it, keeping its density 
under good control. Here it will quickly seed 
and take over an entire forest understory, as 

no insects, mammals, or birds like its garlicky 
taste. White-tailed deer won't eat it, but scat- 
ter its seeds as they brush against the plants 
looking for other forage. With vigorous, reg- 
ular effort, the VNPS appears to be winning 
this critical battle. 

Other invasives noted by Hughes to be 
problematic in the semi-open areas include 
autumn olive, ailanthus ("tree-of-heaven") 
which has the nasty habit of exuding toxins 
that inhibit other plants from growing any- 

The black rat snake is just one of many 
beneficial species that call the WMA home. 

where nearby, and the aggressive Asiatic bit- 
tersweet vine. Birds enjoy the fruits of these 
plants and unfortunately disperse the seeds, 
often over some distance. Tragically, there are 
no natural insects or animals to curtail the 
rapid spread of these invasives. Management 
techniques such as pulling, grinding, timber 
harvest, and fire must be carefully tailored to 
each invasives growth pattern to prevent their 

Constant learning, observation, and 
study must be ongoing for DGIF and part- 
ners to understand and protect this truly spe- 
cial place. Without management of invasives 
and control of many wildlife populations (re- 
member the deer hunters), we will lose the 
beautiful flowers and the marvelous habitat of 
which they are such an integral part. 

Grab your access permit or hunting or 
fishing license, which support these conserva- 
tion efforts. Enjoy the grandeur, stay on the 
trails, and know that Thompson is so very 
much more than beautiful. ?f 

Marie and Milan Majarov (unvw. majarov. com) live 
in Winchester and are nature enthusiasts and active 
in the Virginia and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers 
Associations. Marie is a Virginia Master Naturalist. 


G.Richard Thompson WMA: 


Natural Heritage Program: 


Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail at 


Virginia Master Naturalists: 

Virginia Native Plant Society: 

On the value of native plants: 
Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas W 
Tallamy. Published by Timber Press, 2009. 

Wildflowers in our area: 
FindingWiLiflowers in the Washington- 
Baltimore Area, by Cristol Fleming, Marion 
Blois Lobstein, and Barbara Tufty. Published 
by The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 25 




\jj J J J J J J - J i J I 

A robust striper 
population is just one 

of the Roanoke Rivers 
many surprises. 

story & photos 
by Beau Beasley 

k m | y wife frequently has to remind 
| a w I me to watch the road and not the 

9^K ,-. wildlife. Yes, yes, I know that the 
life-and-death stuff happens on the road. But 
that was a hawk sitting on that fence post we 
just passed! I admit to finding the birds, deer, 
and even groundhogs more engaging than 
the pavement from time to time. But on this 

particular morning, it was the rain that held 
my attention. It was coming down in torrents 
as I made my way south from Warrenton on 
Route 29, and I periodically cast my eyes sky- 
ward in an effort to make out any sunlight, 
even as I kept a white-knuckle grip on the 
steering wheel. 

I pulled over and reached for my cell 
phone — yes, yes, I know — and called Blane 
Chocklett, who owns New Angle Fishing Ad- 
ventures. Blane is a well-respected fly-fishing 
guide who had promised to show me the 
ropes on the Roanoke River that morning. I'd 
wanted to fish with Blane for some years, but 
between his heavy bookings and my hectic 
schedule we never seemed to be able to get to- 
gether. The day had finally come, and with it 
had come the rain that would no doubt spoil 
our hard-earned fishing plans. 

Much to my surprise, Blane was unfazed 
by the downpour: "Well, the river is a bit 
high. But I'm certain we'll find fish. Take your 
time, and I'll see you when you get here." 

I was encouraged by his confidence, but 
I had my doubts. I kept an eye on the skies all 
the way to Roanoke and was fairly certain that 
our trip would be a complete bust. 

I met Blane near the Vic Thomas striped 
bass hatchery in Campbell County, located 
near the river, which was already the color of 
chocolate milk, and moved my gear to his 
tricked-out Toyota FJ Cruiser. It bore all the 
signs of a guide's mobile office: rods and reels 
and waders and flies and generally enough 
gear to outfit a fly shop in the backseat. Be- 
hind the SUV was Blane's beautiful, 16-foot 
Hyde drift boat. Though many used to be- 
lieve that drift boats were only serviceable on 


the country's large western rivers, they've be- 
come quite popular in the Old Dominion and 
elsewhere. The thought occurred to me that 
even if the rain had spoiled the fishing, a pleas- 
ant drift down the river would make a nice 
consolation prize. 

Before hitting the water we decided to 
check out the hatchery, where staff members 
described the strong run of stripers they had 
seen that year. We watched them feed the baby 
stripers. Hatchery staff gently remove 300 to 
400 adult stripers from the river each year and 
take them to the hatchery, where their eggs are 
hatched out in about 48 hours. Adult fish are 
then released to the river unharmed; estimates 
of the mortality rate run at only about one per- 

After they hatch, young stripers are placed 
in rearing ponds and fed on zooplankton, 

which gives the ponds a striking green tint. 
Blane and I watched as hatchery workers 
sprayed biodegradable horse feed into the 
ponds, which promotes the growth of the 
zooplankton on which the young stripers 
feast. Staff keep a close eye on the young 
stripers because at some point they would 
rather eat each other than this food. 

Each year the hatchery raises about 1 5 to 
20 million fry, which are eventually stocked 
in waters around the state. In addition, the 
Department often trades striper fry for shad, 
hybrid striped bass, catfish, and other species 
of fry from neighboring North Carolina, 
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. 

Now, Blane and I were ready to try to 
land a few stripers ourselves. He deftly backed 
the boat into the river and we began our float, 
with Blane at the oars with an eye down- 
stream and me at the casting platform in the 
bow. The river was beautiful and quiet as I 
cast a Clouser Minnow toward some blown- 
down trees, but I wondered aloud whether 
the Roanoke was worth a trip when the ac- 
claimed James and New rivers were relatively 
close by. 

"Its an excellent river in the spring, as a 
matter of fact," Blane responded with confi- 
dence. "It can hold its own against any 
warmwater river in the state. There are times," 
he continued, "during the spring run that I've 
seen schools of young stripers nearly half the 
length of a football field in this river. Matter of 
fact, there have been times when there are so 
many fish that I have stripers hitting the sides 
of the boat while making their way upstream." 


Interested in the Roanoke but not sure 
where to start? You might call one of 
the local fishing stores or fly shops in 
your area. Fly anglers will need 7- to 9- 
weight rods up to 9 feet long, though 
at times a 6 weight will work. Floating 
lines will work when the fish are hitting 
the surface, but be sure to have sinking 
and intermediate lines available. The 
day I was on the river with Blane, we 
used Rio's Outbound Saltwater sinking 
lines and found them very effective. 
Flies run the gamut from 1/0 on the 
high side to size #4 in a variety of col- 
ors. You'll have nearly all your bases 
covered with Clouser Minnows and 
Half and Halfs. 

New Angle Fishing Adventures, 
(540) 354-1774 

Roanoke Orvis 
(540) 345-3635 

Gander Mountain Roanoke 


Angler's Lane, Forest 


Left, river guide Blane Chocklett holds a nice striped bass he caught on a yellow half and half 
that morning. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 27 

I've known Blane for a long time, and he 
isn't inclined to exaggeration. His creative fly 
patterns, some of which are sold commercial- 
ly by Umpqua Feather Merchants (the largest 
manufacturer of commercial-made flies in 
the country), have become very popular. His 
patterns have been fished by countless enthu- 
siasts all over the world, fooling both warm 
and saltwater species. But if you're expecting 
him to brag about his skill or his success, you 
have a long wait ahead of you. Indeed, Blane 
routinely seems uncomfortable in the lime- 
light. When you get to know him, however, 
there's nothing aloof about Blane Chocklett. 
And if you think that Chocklett s fly-tying 
prowess is impressive, you should see the 
man cast. 

As we continued to float downstream, 
my line went tight, I immediately set the 
hook, and I prepped for the tug-of-war — be- 
fore I realized that I was fighting a large- 
mouth tree limb submerged beneath the 
water line. 

"Don't be too hard on yourself, Beau," 
said Blane. "On a typical day here even a 
good angler can lose half a dozen flies because 
of the structure." Of course, all of that struc- 
ture is great for fish. I tied on another fly and 
returned to casting for that hungry striper 
that would slurp up my offering. 

Blane quickly spotted a particular bend 
in the river that normally held fish and deftly 
maneuvered the boat just upstream and to 
the right of a brush pile created by uprooted 
trees that had been pushed down. He direct- 
ed me to cast my pattern close to the branch- 
es but to keep it moving to avoid connecting 
with another submerged branch. After a few 
casts I was about to give up when a sudden 
jolt hit my line. The striper tore off into the 
middle of the river where it could use the 
current against me. 

"Let him run some, Beau," Blane en- 
couraged me. "That knot I tied will hold, 
and I think you have him out of the brush for 

After a considerable fight, the fish made 
one last-ditch effort to head back to the 
brush pile for safety. "Don't let him back in 
there, Beau," said Blane calmly. With Blane's 
good knots and a little bit of luck, I landed a 
1 6-inch-long, fat, healthy striper that didn't 
waste any time beating a hasty retreat back to 
the brush pile when I released him a mo- 
ment later. 

The Roanoke River is among the most 
underrated fisheries in the state, perhaps be- 
cause she's so often overshadowed by her 
larger, sister rivers like the James and the 
New. But in fact the Roanoke, often called 

the Staunton, boasts a surprisingly diverse fish 
population. From late March through April 
the Roanoke teems with stripers, for which 
she's known, but healthy smallies can also be 
had here if you know when and where to go. 

Surprisingly good trout fishing is avail- 
able right in Roanoke itself: You'll find pretty 
easy access along the city's greenway, from 
Wasena Park downstream along Wiley Drive 
to River's Edge Sports Complex. Anglers can 
also find greenway access points in Salem, 
from Colorado Street down to the Apperson 
Road Bridge, and in Roanoke County at 
Greenhill Park. Both of these spots are de- 
layed-harvest trout waters and are worth a se- 
rious look. 

Blane and I had a great day talking about 
our families and all the things that make life 
worth living. We talked about politics, the 
state of the economy, and our future business 
plans, but mosdy we enjoyed the serenity of 
the river and its beautiful surroundings. I 
went on to catch more stripers that day, and I 
made up my mind then and there: Rain or 
shine, I'd be heading back to fish the Roanoke 
for stripers again next spring, if 

Beau Beasley (www. beaubeasley. com) is an 
award-winning conservation writer and the 
director of the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival 
(www. vaflyfishingfestival. org). 

Staff at the Vic Thomas hatchery in Campbell County spray biodegradable horse feed into a pond onsite to promote the growth of zooplankton- 
which young stripers feed upon. 





Hdk Mtjttr 

Wildflowers and Plant Communities 
of the Southern Appalachians and 
Piedmont: A Naturalist's Guide to die 
Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, 
& Georgia 

by Timothy E Spira 

201 1 University of North Carolina Press 
www. uncpress. 
Soft cover with color photos 

"The region covered represents one of the most bi- 
ologically diverse areas of North America. In ad- 
dition to having the highest mountains of 
eastern North America, the southern Appalachi- 
ans harbor some of the most extensive broad- 
leaved temperate forests in the world, as well as 
the largest remaining stands of old-growth forest 
in the eastern United States. No other mountain 
region in America has more species of plants. " 

—Tim P. Spira 

When I received this field guide in the mail, I 
couldn't imagine how it would distinguish it- 
self from the coundess other plant and wild- 
flower guides already on the market. I was in 
for a pleasant surprise. Aside from being lav- 
ishly illustrated with accurate, color photo- 
graphs that make it easy to identify both 
common and rare plants, shrubs, wildflow- 
ers, trees, and vines, the various plant species 
are seen in context, within the mosaic of nat- 
ural communities in which they exist. This 

holistic approach, says the author, botanist 
Tom Spira, "better reflects the natural 
world, as plants, like other organisms, don't 
live in isolation; they coexist and interact in 
myriad ways." 

Apart from the value of the narratives 
that accompany the plant community and 
species profiles, an introductory chapter 
helps the reader grasp the complexities of 
the mountain and piedmont environments, 
and the chapter includes Spira's thoughtful 
primer for understanding natural commu- 
nities, including conservation concerns and 
the impacts of urban sprawl and habitat loss 
upon them. 

Twenty-one major plant communities 
are described in detail, and the refreshing 
and easy-to-use format allows readers to ex- 
plore each of the 340 featured plants in 
terms of their natural history, ecology, habi- 
tat, range, and uses — where applicable. 
Highly recommended. 

Trout in the Classroom 
Ambassador Onboard 

Besides being beautifully colored, brook 
trout are an icon for cold, clean water. 

Virginia teachers from the Blue Ridge 
to the Beltway are capitalizing on this by 
using the popular and rapidly growing 
Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program to 
help students learn and appreciate the im- 
portance of healthy watersheds. 

This school year, 187 classrooms in 
Virginia are raising trout in aquariums, and 
approximately 4,000 students from third 
grade through high school are learning 
about environmental science and about re- 

Recognizing the potential for TIC's 
growth and the importance of inspiring a 
new generation of environmental stewards, 
the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited 
partnered with the Department to hire Rob 

Rob Tucker 

Tucker to manage and support the program 
statewide. Tucker started working in July 
after a 25-year career in higher education. 
He resides in Radford and is an avid fly an- 
gler, kayaker, biker, and cook 

Tucker works with a network of volun- 
teers from Trout Unlimited and other conser- 
vation organizations to promote the 
program, secure funding, purchase equip- 
ment, and deliver trout eggs far and wide. 

"I feel like a modern-day Johnny Apple- 
seed, traveling around Virginia and spreading 
trout," said Tucker. "Meeting so many people 
face to face has enabled me to witness the pas- 
sion that teachers, students, and volunteers 
have for this program. And I already have an 
extensive waiting list of teachers who are 
eager to get involved." 

Students raise trout from eggs to finger- 
lings and then release them in the spring into 
streams with water quality pure enough to 
give the speckled beauties a viable chance for 

Aquarium water is tested daily for tem- 
perature, PH, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 29 

nitrates, and nitrites. Classes regularly make 
field trips to conduct the same tests on their 
local streams and to turn over rocks in search 
of aquatic insects that are not tolerant of pol- 
lution and hence, indicate stream health. 

Teachers develop creative ways to use the 
program as a basis for teaching science and 
also language arts, mathematics, social stud- 
ies, ecology, and art. One important outcome 
is that students become aware of the impor- 
tance of protecting the local environment 
and how it affects everything from drinking 
water supplies to the economy. 

TIC was started in Virginia in 2004 in 
the Martinsville area, thanks primarily to the 
efforts and generosity of Dr. David Jones. 
The program brings Trout Unlimiteds mis- 
sion, "To conserve, protect and restore North 
Americas coldwater fisheries and their water- 
sheds," to a new generation of conservation- 
ists, naturalists, and anglers. 

To learn more about Trout in the Class- 

7}jis story was contributed by DGIF staff member, 
Rob Tucker. 

Dominion Cultivates Learning with Project Plant It! 

Mother Nature and trees take center stage this 
spring as third-graders throughout Virginia 
participate in Dominion's Project Plant It! 
program, developed to educate children, 
plant trees, and improve the environment. 
More than 25,000 students across the com- 
monwealth are enrolled in the 2012 program. 
In January, teachers received a kit with 
lesson plans, posters, stickers, and other in- 
structional tools for the classroom. With 
Project Plant It!, students learn about the 
value of trees in daily life, in industry, and in 
the ecosystem. Also, the program provides 
each participating student with a tree seedling 
to plant at home on Arbor Day, April 27, en- 
abling children to care for their own tree 
while watching it grow. The website,, features interactive 
games and fun outdoor activities that families 
can enjoy together, as well as videos about 
trees. Teachers can even download education- 
al materials and order tree seedlings from the 
website at no cost. 

201 2 Virginia 

Hunter Education Challenge 

May 4-6 

The annual Hunter Education Challenge will take place at 
the Holiday Lake 4-H Center in Appomattox. Contact David 
Dodson at for more 


KonnarocK VA ♦ May 11-12, 2012 

Trout Heritage Day 

April 7, 2012 





Nongame Tax Checkoff Fund 

Remember that this is the year you can make 

a difference by helping to support the 

management of Virginia's wildlife. 

Celebrate the 29th Anniversary of Virginia's Nongame Wildlife Program 
by helping to support essential research and management of Virginia's 
native birds, fish, and nongame animals. 

Consider making a contribution to the Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program 
by using Schedule AD) when you file your state taxes. 

If you would like to make a cash donation directly to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program using a VISA or MasterCard, you can visit the Department's 
website or mail a check made out to: Virginia Nongame Program. 

Mail to: 
Virginia Nongame Program 

P.O. Box 1 1 104 
Richmond, VA 23230- 1 104 

Expert Fly Anglers 

On-stream Instruction ♦ Lectures 

Casting Classes 

Catch & Release Trout Pool for Kids 

Over 20 Sponsors ♦ Exhibits 

$10,000 in Raffle Prizes 

Daily Admission $20 


Congratulations go to Donald Bradley of 
Colonial Beach for his wonderful photograph of 
robin chicks in a nest built in his colorful front 
door wreath. Not only did Donald photograph 
the robins at their unusual nest site, he also cap- 
tured a self-portrait! Donald photographed the 
whole process of nest building, eggs laid, and 
chicks fledging! Great job, Donald! 

You are invited to submit one to five of your best 
photographs to "Image of the Month," Virginia 
Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad 
Street, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Send original 
slides, super high-quality prints, or high-res jpeg, 
tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a self-ad- 
dressed, stamped envelope or other shipping 
method for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you captured 
the image and what camera and settings you used, 
along with your phone number. We look forward to 
seeing and sharing your work with our readers. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 31 

Dear Luke, 

I moved down from Brooklyn, NY, recendy 
and have fallen in love with bird dogs. I just 
bought a nice started 2-year-old pointer 
that responded perfecdy to any of the com- 
mands the trainer gave him. However, when 
we went bird hunting for the first time the 
other day, when I gave him his release com- 
mand he just stood with a puzzled look on 
his face. When he did go out and look for 
birds and I wanted him to come in, he was 
very hesitant and looked at me as if I was 
speaking a foreign language. What gives? 

Vic S., Whitestone 

Dear Vic, 

I believe your problem is you are speaking a 
foreign language — at least to your dog. You 
both understand English but your dog under- 
stands southern English. It is a common prob- 
lem with many northerners who move south. 
Southerners have a propensity for making 
one-syllable words into two- and sometimes 
three-syllable words. And we can sometimes 
make a two-syllable word sound like it has 
only one. For instance, when you tell your dog 
to come "here," it should sound like "hee-yah." 
The word "there" should sound like "thar- 

Or Jones has the same problem at home. 
Mrs. Or Jones is from Philly and when she 
tells him, "Gyt your feet auwf the coughfee 
table," he has no idea what she is saying. But 
her body language is a dead give-away. My sug- 
gestion is to spend some time in or around the 
counties of Patrick, Halifax, or Dickerson hee- 
yah in Virginia. They know how a southerner 
shooed sow-ound. U-al pick up the lingo in no 

Dear Luke, 

My German shorthaired pointer is going to 
have her first litter of puppies soon. I believe 
it will be a large Utter. Although I think I 

have prepared everything as far as a wire 
cage to contain the pups and Utter box for 
her, I am somewhat concerned about the 
mess. My wife wasn't too keen on this idea 
of raising a litter of pointers for fun to 
begin with. Is there anything I can do keep 
the homestead neat? 

Brent B., Boulder, Colorado 

Dear Brent, 

You are correct to be concerned. Puppies do 
three things: sleep, eat, and that other thing. 
They will require a great deal of attention and 
once they get more mobile, you will be 
amazed at where you will find their handi- 
work. I spoke to Ron Samuels at Amber Run 
Kennels in Amelia, and he told me of a device 
called Potty Park which he says works great in 
cutting down on the paperwork, so to speak. 
Check out Amber Run Kennels or Potty Park 
online. Ron and his wife, Marge, have been 
raising Lab puppies for years so they know 
their puppy stuff. 

Dear Luke, 

I am a great fan of your Off the Leash col- 
umn and like to keep up with you and Ol' 
Jones. There is one thing that bothers me, 
however, and that is you constantly refer to 
OF Jones's wife as MOJ or Mrs. Of Jones. 
Based on what I have read in the past, I 
think both you and OP Jones are very lucky 
indeed to have someone put up with aU of 
your shenanigans! To refer to that appar- 
endy charming and energetic lady as old, 
in my opinion is shameful and you should 
refer to "MOJ" in more flattering terms. 
After the constant embarrassment she 
seems to have to endure, I can understand 
her desire for anonymity. However, I know 
the dear girl has a name and she should be 
referred to in a more accurate and fitting 

Joan H., Richmond 

Dear Joan, 

I am always interested in what our readers 
think and your point, like a stylish English set- 
ter, is well taken. I shared your thoughts with 
Of Jones and he readily agreed we should take 
your suggestion to heart. I must say that having 
Of Jones act quickly on any suggestion at any 
time is rather unusual and, as in most cases 
with Of Jones, quick action doesn't always 
equate to quick thinking. On the one hand he 
wants to respect MOJ s right to privacy, and on 
the other, respects greatly the sage wisdom of 
your advice. 

"She's right!" Of Jones declared after read- 
ing your letter. "We'll call her Mrs. Lucky, in- 

You'll have to pardon me while I fix up the 
spare bedroom. I've got the feeling when 'Mrs. 
Lucky' reads this, I'll be seeing a lot more of Of 

Keep the letters coming and always remember, 

Keep a Leg Up, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends his spare 
time hunting up good stories with his best friend, 
Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and Clarke at 
www. clarkec jones. com. 


"You trying to tell me 
something, Alice?" 


Photo Tips 

by Lynda Richardson 

Using Metering Modes for Better Exposures 

Capturing a proper exposure has always 
been one of the most difficult tasks 
for many photographers. With todays digital 
cameras and software programs, the mantra 
seems to be: "I can always fix it in Photo- 
shop!" As a film shooter for over 25 years, I 
can tell you it is much better to get the expo- 
sures correct in the camera. Wouldn't you 
rather spend your time shooting than sitting 
in front of a computer fixing this problem? 

With that said, there is one set of fea- 
tures on your digital camera that can help you 
capture better exposures right off the bat. 
That is the metering modes. Metering modes 
allow a camera to use pre-determined meter- 
ing zones to scan an image and create an aver- 
age exposure based on the selected auto focus 
point, distance from the subject, colors, hues, 
and tones of the scene, as well as lighting — 
particularly backlighting. Exposure bias leans 
toward the autofocus point being used, thus 
ensuring that the point of interest has been 

exposed for properly. Depending on your 
camera model, you will have a varying num- 
ber of metering zones. 

There are basically three metering 
modes: 1) evaluative/matrix or multi-zone, 
2) center-weighted, and 3) spot. 

or Multi-zone Metering 
The evaluative metering mode, also known as 
matrix or multi-zone metering, measures 
light intensity throughout a scene using sev- 
eral preset points or metering zones and then 
averaging the results. This is a good mode to 
use for an average scene. 

Center-weighted Metering 
Center-weighted concentrates the metering 
on 60 to 80 percent of the center of the image 
area. The camera takes information from all 
around the frame but gives more weight to 
metering points around the center. The ad- 

vantage of this mode is that if you have a back- 
lit subject, you can concentrate on getting an 
accurate exposure of the subject without the 
bright backlight skewing the results. 

Spot Metering 
For spot metering, the camera only measures a 
very small area in the center of the scene. This 
is approximately between one and five percent 
of the viewfinder area. Spot metering is very 
accurate and is not influenced by other areas in 
the frame. It is commonly used to shoot very 
high contrast scenes. I use this metering mode 
a lot in my wildlife photography, especially 
when shooting animals in shady areas or small 

A fun experiment with metering modes 
would be to select a subject with either bright 
or dark surroundings; then, focus on the sub- 
ject and shoot using the different modes and 
see what exposures you come up with. Try a 
backlit and front-lit subject. Try a scene with a 
bright sky or dark water. If you change modes 
while focusing on the same subject, are the ex- 
posures the same or not? Which metering 
mode works best in a particular situation? 
Does it matter if you are shooting manually, 
aperture- or shutter-priority, or automatic? 

Learning to use the metering modes of 
your camera to their best advantage can really 
aid you in your goal to make the best exposures 
possible! Good Luck and Happy Shooting! 

A female red wolf hides in her enclosure at the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in Manteo, 
NC. Using a Canon EOS 500mm f/4.0 IS lens and the spot metering mode, I was able to capture a 
nice image of the wolf in very low light. Photo ©Lynda Richardson. 

Lynda Richardson's 
Photography Workshops 

All classes are held at Lewis Ginter Botanical 
Garden. Go to to 
register and look under Adult & Family 
Education or call (804) 262-9887 X322 

(M-F, 9am -5pm). 

Making the Most of Your Digital Camera 

on April 18, 21, 25, 28, & May 2. Learn the 
various settings on your camera and how to 
make them work for you. 

APRIL 2012 ♦ 33 


\ Dining In 

by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Venison Red Curry with Jasmine Rice 

A couple of Thai restaurants not far from home offer 
delicious curry dishes, prompting us to wonder how 
venison might taste in a curry concoction. This recipe incor- 
porates what we liked best from the restaurants' very differ- 
ent taste experiences as well as research into how locals in 
places like New Zealand and the United Kingdom make 
their venison curry. 

Coconut milk, a staple in a Thai curry, can be adjusted 
to affect the dish's sweetness. Balance sweet with heat by 
adjusting the coconut milk, curry paste, and cayenne or red 
pepper flakes to your taste. Red curry typically isn't as spicy 
as green curry. 

Coconut milk, fish sauce, and curry paste are available 
in the Oriental food section of most supermarkets. Coconut 
milk prices can vary substantially between brands. Make 
sure you stir the milk after opening the can. 

We used the top and eye of the round, but shoulder 
stew meat would also work. Whatever meat you use should 
be well trimmed of sinew and fat. You're basically browning 
and then braising the meat. The braising makes it near fork 
tender and helps assimilate the curry flavors. 

While we used an oven, this can be adapted for a crock- 
pot. It's easy to make ahead in large batches. 


1 pound venison, cut into Va- to 1 -inch cubes 

1 Vi tablespoons olive oil 

Vi tablespoon sliced or slivered ginger (we sometimes use a 

vegetable peeler) 
Vi teaspoon curry powder 

2 tablespoons red curry paste 

1 ounces coconut milk (for sweeter dish, use the whole 

Va cup vegetable broth 

1 teaspoon fish sauce 

1 teaspoon sugar 

1 squirt lime juice 

Va teaspoon each cumin, cayenne pepper, and coriander 

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

Vi small onion 

Vi red and/or yellow bell pepper 

1 carrot 

1 cup snow peas (sugar snap peas) 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Other ingredients (harder to find): 

4 Kaffir lime leaves 

4 Thai basil leaves 

A sprinkling of chopped lemongrass 

One cup Jasmine rice (cook according to directions on bag) 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in oven-proof pan over 
medium heat. Add the curry powder and half the slivered 
ginger. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the meat, browning 
on all sides. Stir in curry paste and cook for a minute. Add 
coconut milk, vegetable broth, fish sauce, sugar, and lime 
juice. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, and coriander (and the 
lime and basil leaves and lemongrass). Bring to a slight boil. 
Remove from heat, cover, and place in 1 80°-200° oven for 
1 Vi hours, stirring every 30 minutes. 

While the meat is cooking, slice onions, peppers, and 
carrots into '/Vinch-thick strips about 3 inches long. Saute 
in remaining olive oil over medium-low heat with the rest of 
the ginger until soft. Add the vegetable sticks and snap peas 
to the meat mixture 30 minutes prior to removing from 
oven, until the meat is tender. Correct seasonings to taste. 
Fish sauce is salty, so don't be surprised if you don't need to 
add salt. 

Serve over rice. Serves 4. 

Sides and Dessert 

Try a Thai-styled salad with mango, papaya, and red onion 
julienne slices topped with a dressing of equal parts of white 
vinegar and sugar, a dash of lemon or lime juice, and a very 
light sprinkling of cayenne pepper. For dessert, slice a couple 
of bananas lengthwise and pan fry in a tablespoon of butter 
over medium-high heat. Drizzle with honey and serve with 
a good vanilla ice cream. 

Suggested wine pairings include Gewurtzraminer or 
Riesling or a light red such as a Pinot Noir or a Spanish 
Rioja. Avoid wines with a lot of oak and tannins. 


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